20 Mar 2017

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Satinder Chohan



Looking through my archives this week I couldn't believe that I'd never posted these images of writer Satinder Chohan. I love working with natural light and with my trusty 50mm f1.8 lens and this shoot was just the perfect example of why I think simple is best.



Shot on commission for Tamasha Theatre, they're some of my favourite portraits ever. Not to blow my own trumpet - much of this is down to Satinder's natural charisma and beauty - but there is also something a little bit Leibovitz about the lighting here. Just goes to show that ingenuity goes a long way, since Satinder and I had limited time together and we found a black builder's hoarding as a backdrop for our shoot in the Docklands! 

The light was that perfectly crisp yet refracted winter sun, bouncing off buildings to wrap and define her striking features (and her incredible hair, which reaches to her knees and shines like silk). 

I also shot promotional and rehearsal images for Satinder's powerful drama about modern motherhood and the politics of surrogacy, Made in India, which is currently touring and getting great reviews so do catch it if it's at a venue near you.

15 Mar 2017

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You're just my (tin) type...what I've been up to lately


In the last month or two I've been making a bit of time each day to play with more personal work.



Very slowly I feel like I'm inching towards having something to say about this brilliant and infuriating thing we do with (or sometimes without!) cameras. Sometimes that means putting down my computer or my phone or my sweet little Olympus or my giant Canon lenses and picking up a brush, pair of scissors, and some glue to make collages, or a tin of watercolour blocks to do some painting

At night and on the train as I travel to and from the studio I'm swallowing books in a way that I haven't done for years; reading about the history of citrus farming in Italy, a novel about three African American sisters, a book about witchcraft, short stories about aliens coming to earth. 

I've seen some fantastic exhibitions and some very dull ones, pushing me to agree or disagree with outlook and method, to bring the cream of the matter to the top of the pint of opinion milk. I'm starting to learn to look in new ways, to think more broadly, to be open to unexpected connections and random occurrences. 



None of this is meant as a boast or a showy display of how ARTY I am, but rather to just say how lucky I feel for these days when I have space and time to explore in this way, and as a very lengthy intro to the photos you see in this post. 



Several years ago I took a workshop at Tate Modern, based around the work of Alighiero Boetti. I was drawn to his use of rules, his multidisciplinary practice, his playing off of the tension between order and disorder, chaos and control. Perhaps most importantly (for me, anyway) the results were absolutely beautiful artefacts. 

More recently I've been thinking about the interaction between digital and analogue technologies, about nostalgia, viscerality, craft versus art. This is manifesting in using apps to glitch photos and destroy images at a pixel level and conversely in a renewed love of PVA glue, papercraft and bookbinding.

I've written on this blog before about the magic of early photographic processes like tintypes or daguerrotypes when I documented gallerist Laura Noble's experience at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam. In the last week or two I've been experimenting with using apps to recreate this effect. Some are the pictures you see above. How crazy is it to look so far backwards with such forward facing tech? Do we feel cheated because the process can be approximated at the touch of a button? What does it mean when I print them out, stick with shiny tape, rescan, pin on my wall as I have done here?

I don't have any answers yet and I'm not even certain of the questions I'm asking. All I know is I'm having a tremendous time trying to find out. On Friday I'm excited to introduce some workshop students to the magic of cyanotypes (sun willing!). We will also be snapping away on our smartphones and I'm really interested to see what they make of these two activities. Keeping my eyes open is the name of the game...

A few more experiments, with my ever patient studio mates:


Turns out I've been intrigued by these old processes for a while...when rummaging for paper to mount my latest snaps I uncovered this clipping from an Observer magazine I cut out about a million years ago. How alive does this man look? He could be someone you passed in the street this evening.



Other photographers are using these techniques to brilliant effect. One of Joni Sternbach's tintypes of surfers could be seen at this year's Taylor Wessing Prize exhibition(but this one of mer-people is my favourite).

24 Feb 2017

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A Midsummer Night's Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of my favourite plays and certainly one of my favourite Shakespeare pieces. The dreamy fairies, the rude Mechanicals, the play-within-a-play; all seem to inspire some extremely funny, lively, beautifully designed productions. I recently photographed a new version for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and it was totally gorgeous. All the sets and costumes looked like a Vogue spread and the performances were on point! The show continues to run tonight and tomorrow but looks like it's sold out!

Director: Steven Grihault
Set and Costume Designer: Susannah Henry
Lighting Designer: Adam King

Pictured: Rikké Haughem as Puck

12 Jan 2017

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Ant the Elder II


Here's a second shot from the session with Ant the Elder, who I photographed before Christmas.

You can see the first here. In this treatment I like how the solarisation almost makes it look like a somewhat decayed daguerrotype.

Ant is a tattoo artist working at Sang Bleu in Dalston and elsewhere in London and abroad. Follow him here (contact details in bio to arrange a booking).

I'm looking to expand my portraiture portfolio in 2017 so if you or someone you know would has an interesting look and would be interested in arranging a sitting please email me to discuss...any SFW proposals considered!